Proposal for free creative commons natural home designs.
Wiki Natural Houses: free, open source, downloadable PDF and CAD files so everyone can build their own low cost home.
Wikihouses: What Alastair Parvin is saying is 95% spot-on in my opinion. I agree about architecture by everyone, for everyone, but I’m not a fan of plastic houses since they offgas toxic fumes and lack the beauty and properties of natural materials. Factory fabrication makes more sense for smaller consumer items such as furniture, etc. in my opinion. Plus, there’s no real need to factory fabricate parts if you use naturally available local materials such as wood poles and straw bales. Most people can find bales and wood poles more easily than CNC machinery. Houses of natural materials can be round, domed, organic shaped, square or rectangular. They can look any way you want. (See my Earthbag House Plans site for lots of options.)
How about doing a Wiki Natural House! Free plans, community input, super low cost, nontoxic natural materials, DIY friendly, optimized designs, passive solar, superinsulating, etc. Natural materials better lend themselves to creative designs. We want to avoid standardized ticky-tacky homes like US suburbs. Instead, build interesting yet simple houses. Simple roundhouses, for example, like I’m describing can be built in one day! (It’s already been done.)
What’s needed to jump start Wiki Natural Houses is a set of free high quality building details — very efficient systems for building foundations, post and beam, roofs, earthbag benches, etc. There are lots of ways of doing things. The challenge is to focus on optimized systems that are do-it-yourself friendly and ultra low cost. The dome home in France would be a good goal to shoot for: $4,000 for a small, simple home… say 2 bedroom, one bath. The cost will be higher if it’s code approved, of course.
A lot of this building detail work has already been done and is freely available on our Natural Building blog. Search for post and beam built with standard hardware, gravel bag foundations, external pinning, earthen floors, pallet floors, compression rings, reciprocal roofs, etc.
The main sticking point is code versus non code designs. Trying to meet code is a slippery slope for multiple reasons. Codes vary from place to place, wood must be officially graded by approved inspectors (that rules out poles from a local forest), etc. etc. That said, I think we should work towards a code approved design since most people live in areas with building codes. Those without codes can use lower cost, simpler methods as explained on our blog.
On a related note, I’ve been corresponding with someone who wants to create a large wiki type natural building training project. Their focus will be on open source training materials that provide sufficient info so people don’t need to buy books or take expensive training programs and workshops. It would be very exciting to see both projects brought to fruition.
I think we should design and build a house for you [Jason in the UK]. That would motivate you and provide a case study for others to emulate. Ideally, it would also meet lots of other people’s needs. No point in building a one-off design that no one else wants. So part of your task is identifying what people really want in terms of size, shape, costs, etc.
I would like to use the dome home in France as a starting point, except I would like to do roundhouses instead of domes, and see a 6′ wide patio door on every room plus more windows for solar gain. Omit the skylights because they tend to leak and cause overheating.
You don’t have to be a building expert to do this. Countless people have built their own homes, even in code approved areas. You just need to take the time and effort to follow through on things and track down answers. I can do the technical work, all drawings and provide general guidance.
Note: This will be a rather long project since Jason is in university. He probably won’t start building until he has graduated.
For free plans currently available, click here.